Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

The Wrong Gift

My eyebrows were twitching with horror as I glared at the huge box before me. By the looks of it, it did not contain the book I had asked for in my Christmas wish list. The moment I ripped open the green, Christmas wrapper around it, I was even more horrified.

I had received a pair of sandals in our office Kriskringle.

“WHAT’S THIS?!” I cried in dismay, my voice ringing around the office. “I DID NOT ASK FOR A PAIR OF SANDALS THIS CHRISTMAS!”

I realized my embarrassment when a bespectacled guy approached me. He was the one who had picked my name. He explained he could not find the one I was wishing for so he looked for anything that’s connected to my interest. He thought the sandals would be good for my hiking trips, but I am sorry they could not help my feet maintain balance on assaults. I’d rather have highly-expensive shoes to ensure footing on such trips.

He offered to replace the gift since I did not like it. 

I meekly and guiltily returned the box to him. Such was the episode of receiving the wrong gift.

But that was not the first time I had received disappointments on such occasions.

For the past two consecutive Christmas parties at another company, I had never – as in, never – had the privilege of receiving any of the three gifts I had listed on our Kriskingle wish list. The guy who had picked up my name gave me disappointing gifts. He explained he had lost the list…and lost it again the next year because he was the same guy who had picked up my name. He seems to be at the habit of losing wish lists.

My friend warned me that men usually don’t take the time and effort to look for what was listed in the wish list of their monito or monita. But I am careful not to do that to keep from ruining the Christmas spirit of my monito or monita.

I took so much time and effort to find what my monita really wanted. It was harrowing and stressful, especially copies of the book she wanted were sold out in the midst of panic buyers. I was ready to give up and resolve to another gift until a text message came to me at the last minute, reserving the book she wanted under my name. 

Praise God for the timing. I guess this is the reason I was not buying another gift or asking an accomplice if she wanted another book of the same author. When she unwrapped the present, she was bursting with glee and she ran away with the most perfect Christmas present she had received in her life.

She was total stranger to me. But deep inside I was glad to make her happy by fulfilling her wish (but hey, I’m no genie). Somehow, that’s my mission. And I want to ensure that the receiver would not be disappointed. 

Somehow, I believe some people would give just anything because tradition obligates them to do so. But giving gifts is not an obligation. It is an act of appreciation, friendship, love, and respect. 

It’s fulfilling when the person receiving your gift smiles because all your effort and sacrifice searching for it has been paid. I would never forget when my monito, a seious guy who would occasionally give charming half smiles, brightened up when he received the pair of boxers he wanted. That smile made me forget the great embarrassment of going to the men’s section to buy a pair of boxers (where I asked my mom to accompany me on buying such a pair because I had no idea about boxers). As much as possible, I follow what’s in a person’s wish list because it’s also an act of valuing that person. In turn, receiving the gift I really wanted gives me the impression that the giver values me well. 

All my disappointment had washed away when my closest friends gave me the most wonderful gifts later that day. I saw they were all attributed to my personality and needs. By what I had received, I could see their effort and the love they had poured into their sleepless search across every mall and specialty store. It’s fun receiving them but it was even more fulfilling to know how much I am loved.

I just hope my Secret Santa next year would value me just as I value my monito or monita. And before this year ends, I’ll make a follow up on my not-so-secret Santa about the right and perfect gift I had been waiting for all my life…

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Sweets For My Christmas Sweet Tooth

As sweet as the brownies and revel bars that Jingky Matienzo bakes, there’s sweetness overload brewing in her little business of selling pastries and cookies. While working as a dietrician in St. Luke’s Hospital, Jingky does well in mixing her love for baking and her ingenuity for business that boosts her profit.

Indeed, this is the good time to take time to have this business for Christmas. Jingky’s pastries, I could say, is a real treat for foodies like me! So, I took the chance to have a bite on her sweet little creations.

Jingky Jane Matienzo gave me a taste of her wonderful baked creations. She had a special touch on each of them, giving them a certain signature taste that only Jingky's :)

Jingky Jane Matienzo gave me a taste of her wonderful baked creations. She had a special touch on each of them, giving them a certain signature taste that only Jingky’s 🙂

During our two hour stay for Jingky’s interview, I learned that it is not only the extra sweet income that motivates her to do this sideline but her passion for baking. Money, after all, is an extra asset to that talent and passion that she got. Besides, she told me, seeing people happily eating her baked creations is the most valuable reward.

Get to know her, as well as business and financial expert John Calub’s tips in having a good business for this Christmas only on Newslight, to be aired December 25, Christmas day, 7:30-8pm (Manila time) on Light Network, channel 33. On cable, channel 5 (Sky analog), 161 (Sky digital), 93 (Cignal).image (4)

Great Restaurants For the Holidays!

Christmas is the best time for family bondings, but it can even get better when we all get together with food!

So, it’s a privilege to have this assignment of featuring special restaurants that are unique in its kind. As a foodie myself, it’s an amazing
experience to feature (and taste) Galileo Enoteca and the Old Oven Cafe.

Let me give you a peep to these one-of-a-kind restos:

Galileo Enoteca:

You don’t need to leave the Philippines just to get a taste of authentic Italian dishes. Everything’s here in this restaurant in Mandaluyong City! Take a bite of their risotto (their rice recipe), frutti di mare (their pizza), and real Italian cold cuts and cheese. It would be better when paired with vino rosso (red wine). But it wouldn’t get better without lively chatting, laughter, and fun — and our interview was thus memorable!

But just because the air of Europe fills this place means you have to very careful in eating. Eating Italian food means you have to be yourself! Don’t cut up the spaghetti strand, or you’ll miss half of your life! 🙂

A memorable dinner with the general manager of Galileo Enoteca, Wilma Valbuena. For the first time, I got to learn all these Italian dishes

A memorable dinner with the general manager of Galileo Enoteca, Wilma Valbuena. For the first time, I got to learn all these Italian dishes

The Old Oven Cafe:

Get a bite of Italian-American-Asian fusion with that Baguio feel in this restaurant in Katipunan, Quezon City. With its classic facade and vintage-feel, it reminds me of pubs in Ireland brimming with country music. But the food is not really old, but it gives you a fresh feeling of good company. Try their Three Cheese Pizza, Swiss Mushroom Burger, and Chonburi Spicy Wings (my favorite!). For this holidays they have Lamb Chops with Black Rice, and tasting it for the first time is a treat for me!

But what I appreciate more in this place is their appreciation for real Pinoy talent. Take a tour to their mini-exhibit of artworks made by deaf artists. For art enthusiasts who would like to buy their works, proceeds would go to the artists themselves.

Having a chat with the owner and chef of The Old Oven Art Cafe, Kay Mangibin-Torres, who made all these food herself.

Having a chat with the owner and chef of The Old Oven Art Cafe, Kay Mangibin-Torres, who made all these food herself.

For my report on these amazing restaurants, watch Newslight on December 25, 7:30-8pm (Manila time), on Light Network channel 33. Also, it is on channel 93 (Cignal cable), 5 (Sky cable analog), and 161 (Sky cable digital).

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The DIY Experience

Looking for a good gift this Christmas? Why not try making one? Making a DIY project unleashes both your creativity and passion for uniqueness.

I just suddenly discovered my inner creative self once again. I love it when I had just finished decorating the notebook with all those colorful bits and pieces from Ms. Patricia Paterno’s box. Like a little kid, I was excited when I finished my first project at Papelmelroti.

Popular as a DIY (do-it-yourself) shop, Papelmelroti caters to art lovers, gift buyers, and all kinds of people who would love to unleash their creative selves. For forty years, Papelmelroti had been unique in its kind, as its organic products promote a clean environment and nationality at the same time. Ms. Paterno, one of the five siblings who owned Papelmelroti (she was the one from whom “Pa” was named after), was kind enough to share to me the store’s humble and blessed story, as well as her love for the arts.

She lets me try my own DIY creation. From a plain notebook, I sorted out paper cuts and stickers and other items. Tada! I made a girl who left her basket just to chase the butterly. But Ms. Paterno had a different interpretation. It’s a girl who left her baggage of problems to chase her dreams! I love it!

Watch our interview and my DIY trial in Dec. 24 only on Newslight, 7:30-8pm (Manila time). It will be aired on Light Network (channels: 33 = free channel in Manila, 161 = Sky digital cable, 93 = Cignal cable). There’s also live streaming on http://www.lightnetwork.ph.

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Receive Much When You Give Much

‎It was a cold and friendly morning, bringing in whisps of that early Christmas sensation once again. As usual, I greeted neighbors on my way to work. I was startled when one of them said:

“Good morning! Cold, isn’t it? It’s gonna be Christmas soon! Why not throw in some gifts to us?”
I only grinned, bluntly said, “Budget’s tight,” and went my way.
I was quite disturbed at that kind of greeting. Do I look like Santa’s daughter? Sorry, I don’t wear red.
Ok, I can pass that out as a joke. But I wonder why it is a common mindset to most of us to ask for a gift this Christmas instead of the other way?
Somehow, her greeting’s a bit off. Maybe because I’m too thrifty (and I admit that), but being generous dosen’t mean you can throw your money to everyone in the world.
Somehow, I can’t help but think that the poverty mindset had made most of us obsessed with the hope of being treated by another well-off person in your neighborhood. It’s a sad thing to use the Christmas season as an excuse for asking “aguinaldo” or gifts for the sake of self-gratification. We have had much of the culture of receiving rather than giving. The worst thing is when we receive we ask for more without ever thinking of giving back.
In the Philippines, parents accompany their children during Christmas to their “ninong” and “ninang” (godfather and godmother). When your inaanak or godchildren dropby your house, you have to give them gifts or money. But my mother taught me differently. Whenever I dropby to my ninong or ninang, I give them a gift. Usually, it’s a chilled refrigirator cake that I made myself (yummy!)
Remember the cliche it’s better to give than to receive. I guarantee you that when you give, it’s equally fulfilling as receiving — much better actually.
But when I give, I think about it. I don’t just throw boxes in the neighboor all around while laughing, “Ho ho ho!” I make sure that my gifts are given to the right people: ones who are good stewards of it and to your generosity, and not the abusive receiver. These are the ones who are always thankful whatever they receive. Much like planting a small seed on good ground.
I guess we have to shift mindsets. It’s time we give for the sake of love. Whenever we do, we receive much more than when we ask to be given.

 

Living out Christ in Christmas

If you could come and visit our house hours before Christmas, you might think of it first as pathetic: no Christmas tree, no nativity scene, not even Santa and his reindeer or a lone snowman adored the house. All we had were a few bells paired with a few shiny garlands that we did not remove from last year.

Unlike most families today, we did not cook much. With the house filled with only two souls, my mom and I, we wouldn’t do much for ourselves.

And yet the holiday music brightens the whole space.

Turning to facebook friends, I tried to greet the world one by one, and hoping I have brought a holiday cheer to those I’ve greeted (and an ounce of remembrance to this little soul).

And yet, I felt satisfied. No decor, no gift, no lavish feast did it. It’s the very love that brought a Savior to this earth. The epitome of heaven’s glory sent down to die in our places. The King who thought of nothing but you and me.

Christmas should never be brought up because of tradition. It was never there from the beginning of earth. But the very reason for its celebration has always celebrated the very existence we are.

I remembered the Christmas parties the past few days. There were a lot of laughter and noise, gifts and raffles, dance and song numbers that made them livelier. And as I now sit quietly in my room, I realized it’s so much different. None of these things were in our house now…but that’s not the reason to moan and covet for a grander party.

Should we be brought back to the moment the Savior was born, it was very dire…even more pathetic than our almost decor-less house. Instead of dining with family and good wine, Jesus came into this earth surrounded with animals. It sure was an unlikely state of being born, but none of them whined. His birth was a joy in itself to his parents and to the world.

The parties are just temporary and sadly are a cover up to the real joy made for us. I’m not against them, but on the moment we depend on them to be our source of celebrating. Taking Christ away from Christmas is never Christmas at all.  The material things that we garner from these parties will fade away. But the Lord and His love for us is steadfast and new forever.

And so I’m glad for the very reason for Christmas. This is one reason we feel joy…Jesus is the joy of the world itself. His coming is an indication of His love for us. And we should always remember how He loved us, though we can never measure it out.

I wouldn’t worry with having no visitors at this point in time. His presence alone is the One Thing we’ve always wanted to be with. It’s more than having ten kings visiting your home to dine at our noche buena. As I wait for my mom to cook our little dinner, I am thankful and hopeful. Christmas never changed. Most of all, Christ never changed. He fills us up. He draws us near to His heart. He shows His love and grace to the two humble souls of this little house.

The Christmas Prayer Wall

Pasig City-20121212-00458 I was waiting at the production area when I saw these cluster of cards posted in a corner. Killing time, I idly came closer to read the hand-written notes and was surprised with what was in them.

The production girls said that these are their wish lists and prayers for the year. Most jotted down in bulleted form wishes like, “to have a baby”, “lovelife” or “house and lot”. But I’m surprised on how some listed “for my whole family to be saved” or “to become closer to God”. Knowing their character are all bubbly and very lively (add up to their fun noisiness), I was moved as I imagined how they must have silently reflected their wishes and prayers. But this corner, they said, is not exclusive to the prod people alone. They even invited me to post a card (but not a gigantic one, they warned haha :P).

I realized how it was long time since I dreamed the “impossible dreams”. I was moved in the faith these girls had as some of them added verses and declarations that the Lord is the God of the “possible impossibilities”.

With the everyday stress I’m getting into, I’m beginning to forget to enjoy life while anticipating and pursuing my innermost desires. I have forgotten how beautiful life is, as I try to go with the flow of the “urgency” of everyday issues. With the this so-called urgency, I must be forgetting my other dreams of making my own film or music album. When I think of these, I can’t help but smile — I believe that when God put such desires in my heart He’s leading me into a new road…much more a new discovery of what He wants me to be.

Yet, it is not too late to dream again. If five years ago, my present profession was just a dream, who knows that five years from now my dream to travel the world and reach the nations come suddenly. It just takes time and myself to just sit back, reflect, and ask the Lord to take over again the road where I should be going from here. 🙂

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